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Zeman: Only persecuted refugees can be granted asylum

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Brno, Jan 25 (CTK) – All refugees must prove that they are politically persecuted if they seek asylum and the fact itself that they come from a country in which fighting is underway is no reason for being granted it, Czech President Milos Zeman said yesterday.
Zeman said this arose from the Geneva conventions.
This considerably limits the number of the refugees to whom Prague can grant asylum or international legal protection, he added.
Zeman has long been against the acceptance of refugees, for which some of his opponents criticise him.
Martin Rozumek, who heads the Czech Organisation for Aid to Refugees (OPU), said, however, the Geneva conventions refer not only to political persecution but also another four reasons, and that additional protection is also secured by European law.
Defence lawyer Pavel Cizinsky said Zeman’s simplified assertion may correspond to the Geneva Convention from July 1951, but the humanitarian law has developed and widened since.
Zeman told the mayors of South Moravia municipalities he had arrived at the conclusion after having studied the relevant Geneva convention.
The deportation of economic migrants and those spreading hatred is the only solution to the migrant crisis, Zeman said.
“I am convinced that next year, the migrant wave will spill over to our country. Restrictive measures of Bavaria and Austria will be the trigger,” he added.
According to Rozumek, the Geneva convention secures protection for not only those persecuted for their political views but also for their religion, race, ethnicity and membership of a social group.
In addition, the European Convention on Human Rights, which the Czech Republic joined, adjusting its legislation accordingly, aims to protect the victims of armed conflicts, inhuman treatment and torture, Rozumek said.
“The European Convention on Human Rights protects the right to life without any exception. Even if the Geneva Convention did not exist, it [the European Convention] prevents people from being returned to countries where they could face torture and inhuman treatment. According to European law, it is enough if people have fled from an armed conflict, they need not have anything to do with politics,” Rozumek told CTK.
“The president is wrong, as usual,” he added.
Cizinsky said Zeman “may be basically right, though in a very simplified way,” but only according to the convention from July 1951. The document only applied to the people who became refugees before 1951. Sixteen years later, the convention was extended to apply to all, and the humanitarian law continued to further develop,” Cizinsky said.
“According to the [relevant] European directive and also the Czech asylum law, the civilians who are threatened with death due to violence within armed conflicts are entitled to protection,” Cizinsky said.
He said Zeman´s “discovery” may indicate that the victims of violence are not entitled to aid. “This conclusion would be wrong from the legal point of view,” Cizinsky said.
Zeman said if the refugees were inside the Czech Republic, the border protection would not help it.
They could stay up to 580 days in detention facilities, he added.
“This is certainly nothing pleasant. Hence my view that rather than letting them in, consistent protection of our border by combined patrols of the military and police along with the use of the system of active reserves is much better,” Zeman said.
He stressed that young men account for a majority of the migrants.
“We all feel compassion for the refugees, but facts have confirmed that 80 percent of them are healthy men who should fight for the freedom of their country,” Zeman said.
“And if they come from countries with no hostilities, they should work for their country, not leave it,” Zeman said.
He said he was aware of his attitudes being disliked by a number of politicians.
“Some of them have accused me of spreading hatred, fear and panic. These politicians remind me of the bathing Czech tourists on the Thai beaches at time when a small wave appeared on the horizon. In fact, it is called tsunami,” Zeman said.

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